Ground forces needed to confront and handle ISIS

With the Islamist terror group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria reportedly about to take control of the Syrian city of Kobani, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq. I am in support of the air strikes, but rather than relying on them, I think that they need to be more supplemental with intentional and strategic ground attacks being the main point of attack for the U.S. and its allies. syria

For years, the United States’ involvement in the Middle East has been surrounded by controversy—particularly regarding innocent civilian casualties due to both ground and air operations. Although the U.S. military expressed apathy toward the taking of Kobani, the move would be strategically crucial for the group, as it would establish an expanse of 62 miles near the border of Turkey, right between ISIS’ declared capital of Raqqa, Syria and the Syrian city of Aleppo.

The question at hand is whether the air strikes are making enough difference in Iraq and Syria to counteract the damage that they are capable of doing to people and land. According to many news sources, the most effective forces against ISIS have actually been Syrian Kurdish fighters.

I don’t think that one could strongly argue against the U.S. involvement against ISIS, as it seems apparent that Iraq and Syria need help in defending their people and respective countries. However, there is an apparent lack of collaboration between the United States and its allies in the Middle East. While the Syrian Kurds have had some success in holding off ISIS from overtaking Kobani, our nation’s Rear Admiral John Kirby and President Obama have emphasized the importance of ground support from their allies in the Middle East.

“The ground forces that matter the most are indigenous ground forces, and we don’t have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria right now— it’s just a fact,” Kirby said to a CNN reporter.

It is encouraging that Syrian Kurds have had some success in fending off ISIS, but a rebel militia is not going to be enough to thwart this evil force. While British forces have provided some support in Syria and Iraq, I sit here wondering why more has not been done. Our world has systems established to react to situations like this, such as the United Nations and other alliances between powerful nations. Why then have the U.S. and other super powers mustered little else other than air strikes?

Between the Syrian Kurdish militia, Iraqi government forces, the U.S. and the forces of Great Britain, it seems that ISIS could be stopped before they can do more devastating damage to the people in Syria, Iraq and Turkey. Granted, I am not a strategic expert in the ways of war, but it frustrates me—and I am sure I am not alone—to hear about mass execution after mass execution and all of the most powerful armed forces in the world can do is fly overhead and drop bombs on innocent cities.

There is never an easy solution to stopping a heartless force like ISIS, and I absolutely value the lives and safety of U.S. troops around the world. But at a certain point, when we are already committed to the conflict, it is the responsibility of the U.S. to put its foot down and end the killing. I just can’t help but wonder how many more innocent people will die in the Middle East before the U.S. and its allies deploy ground troops to wipe out the merciless ISIS and put an end to its twisted visions.

Max Carter

Columnist

Contact Max Carter at mcarter16@my.whitworth.edu

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